Wallpaper is hard to put up and a pain to remove, but this easy stencil technique creates the look of elegant tone-on-tone paper without the hassle. Flat paint applied in a pattern onto a semigloss base coat catches the light in different ways, reflecting both light and dark, just like woven damask cloth. This method works well with latex paints—all you’ll need is flat paint for the stenciling and semigloss wall paint, both in the same color. You can buy stencils ready-made or cut your own out of Mylar.

Getting Started

The secret to decorative painting is glaze, a transparent coating that's tinted and applied over a painted wall. Glazes come in latex (water-based) and alkyd (oil) formulas. Finkelstein recommends the latter for its longer working time. Note, however, that alkyd glaze requires an alkyd base coat, and cleanup means mineral spirits or turpentine. Glazes are sold untinted, so to get the color you want you'll need to add pigment. Many paint stores will sell you small amounts of the pigments they use to tint paint separately; for as little as $5 you should be able to purchase enough to tint a gallon. To get the color right, fill a small bucket with glaze and add pigment drop by drop. Make sure your base paint and all glazes are thoroughly mixed and that you try them out together on a test piece of primed drywall before you begin.
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    Tools List

    • Chalk Line and Baby Powder
      Chalk line and baby powder
    • Mylar and Razor Knife
      Mylar and razor knife (or precut stencil)
    • Stencil Brush
      Stencil brush (round, with flat bristles)
    • Painter's Tape
      Painter's tape

    Shopping List


    (for stenciling)